Australian conservationist Bindi Irwin revealed on Wednesday that she has undergone surgery for endometriosis after a decade-long battle with the condition that affects the uterus.
“For 10 years I’ve struggled with insurmountable fatigue, pain and nausea,” shared Irwin posts on social media next to an image of her in a hospital bed.
“A doctor told me it’s just something you have to deal with as a woman and I completely gave up and tried to function through the pain.”
Irwin’s posts coincided with both International Women’s Day and Endometriosis Awareness Month.
Endometriosis is “a condition in which the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus,” according to the United States National Institutes of Health.
Symptoms can include pelvic pain, heavy bleeding during menstruation, and fertility problems.
Irwin, 24, said doctors had found 37 lesions, some of which were “very deep and difficult to remove” but that she was now “on the road to recovery”.
“I am sharing my story for anyone reading this who is quietly dealing with pain and no answers. Let this be your confirmation that your pain is real and you deserve help,” she added.
Anyone with a uterus who is of childbearing age can suffer from the disease, but it is most common in women between the ages of 30 and 40. According to the World Health Organization, about one in ten people born with a uterus has endometriosis. The disease affects approximately 190 million women and girls worldwide.
Irwin is a famous conservationist who starred in ‘Crikey! It’s the Irwins,” a reality TV show about her family’s work at Australia Zoo in Queensland, which her mother owns.
She won “Dancing With the Stars” in 2015 and comes from a family of conservationists, including her father Steve, the late ‘Crocodile Hunter’ who was killed by a stingray while filming at the Gerat Barrier Reef in 2006.
She gave birth to a daughter, Grace, in March 2021.
“Please be careful and pause before you ask me (or any woman) when we will have more children,” Irwin wrote in her post Wednesday. “After everything my body has been through, I am extremely grateful that we have our beautiful daughter. She feels like the miracle of our family.”
Shortly after her posts, her family took to social media to share their support.
Her husband Chandler Powell said, “Watching you endure the pain of taking care of our family and continuing our conservation work while being absolutely riddled with endometriosis is something that will inspire me forever.”
Irwin’s brother Robert added on Instagram: “You never know who is suffering in silence, let’s make this a topic we all talk about freely.”
Irwin is the latest in a string of celebrities to open up about their battle with endometriosis.
In a Paramount Plus docuseries released last year, comedian Amy Schumer discussed her decades-long battle with what she called a “lonely disease.” Schumer had her uterus removed in 2021 and shared a video on her Instagram after the operation.
Comedian Lena Dunham and actress Padma Lakshmi have also spoken out about their experiences with the disease.